With the draft over, the 32 NFL franchises' rosters are nearly finalized. Barring some late free agency work, teams' depth charts can be predicted. With that in mind, here is each team's most curious decision of the 2020 offseason thus far.
Humphries has not been a particularly dependable left tackle since the Cardinals took him in the 2015 first round. He has played more than 13 games in just one of his five seasons. This three-year, $44.25 million deal contains only one fully guaranteed season, but with Humphries suffering season-ending injuries in 2017 and '18, avoiding the 2021 injury guarantee if this pact goes south quickly will not be automatic. The Cards took themselves out of a rarely strong tackle draft by extending Humphries and cannot afford another major injury.
Up against the cap going into free agency, the Falcons managed to create enough room to authorize a three-year, $45 million deal for defensive end Dante Fowler. This is not necessarily a high price, but Fowler has been too inconsistent in his five-year career to envision him solving the problems the Falcons created with shaky first-round picks of Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley. Fowler's contract-year Rams showing featured 11.5 sacks, but in 2018 he registered four in 15 games and managed just six QB hits that year.
Draft darlings yet again, the Ravens can be docked for not adding an outside linebacker. Baltimore is not big on paying outside 'backers but did use its franchise tag to cuff Matt Judon. However, the Ravens are thin beyond him and went through the draft without adding another edge player to their pipeline. The Ravens had little alongside Judon in their first post-Terrell Suggs slate and needed to blitz more than any other team to generate pressure. Defensive end Calais Campbell will help on this front, but Baltimore could use another linebacking option.
Although Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane are seemingly contractually obligated to hire as many ex-Panthers as possible, entrusting Josh Norman to be a starter again is pushing it for a defense as well-built as Buffalo's. The Bills gave Norman only a one-year, $6M deal but did not draft a cornerback until Round 7. The long-embattled Redskins corner is on track to be Tre'Davious White's wingman. A move back to McDermott's zone-based system may help Norman, but his 2015 contract year looks like an outlier an eight-year career. Norman turning 33 this year further tilts the odds here.
The Panthers trading quality guard Trai Turner to the Chargers for an expensive tackle who is nearly six years older was strange. Blood clots and a groin injury limited Russell Okung to six games last season, and the former first-round pick is due a $13M base salary. Even if this is a one-year arrangement, giving up on Turner, a five-time Pro Bowler before age 27, to rent an aging tackle was one of this offseason's more curious moves. The Panthers chose to extend Turner over Andrew Norwell; now each member of Carolina's once-dominant guard tandem is gone.
After two disappointing Packers seasons, Jimmy Graham agreed to an eye-popping contract with their biggest rivals. The Bears gave the soon-to-be 34-year-old tight end a two-year, $16M deal. The formerly dominant Saint and productive Seahawk is no longer particularly close to those levels, but the Bears misfired on a few tight ends under current GM Ryan Pace — second-rounder Adam Shaheen and free agent signings Trey Burton and Dion Sims — to induce this overpay. Graham will now be joined by another second-round tight end — Cole Kmet — as the Bears continue to figure out this trouble spot.
Give the Bengals credit for deviating from their usual free agency stinginess, but they went overboard on one of their signings. Cincinnati signed ex-Minnesota first-round cornerback Trae Waynes to a three-year, $42M deal. Waynes did not live up to his draft status as a Viking and is now the NFL's sixth-highest-paid corner. Pro Football Focus has never graded Waynes as a top-40 corner in a season, but he will be counted on to help a Bengals defense that — despite several veterans — ranked 29th last year.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam bought the team in fall 2012. He is on GM No. 6. Haslam forced out John Dorsey and hired Andrew Berry, who was part of the regime that oversaw an NFL-record 1-31 stretch from 2016-17. Dorsey did well to equip the Browns with their most talent perhaps since they rebooted in 1999 but left after Haslam wanted to strip his power. While Dorsey bombed in promoting Freddie Kitchens to head coach, the Browns' promise on offense is due to his draft picks and trades. Berry will attempt to stabilize one of pro sports' most unstable positions.
Amari Cooper did well for himself, securing a five-year deal worth $100M in March. The Cowboys' 2018 trade acquisition is now the NFL's second-highest-paid receiver. Cooper, though, is a second-tier wideout at best. He has never surpassed 1,200 receiving yards in five seasons; 25 other receivers have done so in this span. Despite his status as one of the game's best route runners, Cooper remains an undependable target.
It is hard to argue with most of John Elway's moves this offseason, but the Denver GM green-lighting Melvin Gordon's two-year, $16M deal should cause pause amid Broncos optimism. The Broncos already employ Phillip Lindsay, a more effective running back who is 2-for-2 in 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Gordon is 1-for-5. Doubling up at running back is both a waste of resources in the modern game and a good way to alienate an all-time UDFA success story. Lindsay, who was on track to secure a raise this offseason before the Gordon deal, is attached to a $750,000 salary in 2020.
Since starting 10 games in relief of Jason Peters during the Eagles' 2017 Super Bowl season, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has started just four. That did not stop the Lions from giving the tackle a five-year, $45 million deal with $20M guaranteed. Vaitai's agent did well to secure his swing-tackle client a lucrative contract. Even if the guarantees make this a two-year agreement, the Lions cutting Ricky Wagner and giving his far less stable replacement almost as much money makes for an interesting solution.
A few days after it happened, the Packers' trade-up for Love looks even weirder. Aaron Rodgers has vowed repeatedly he wants to play into his 40s, which differs from Brett Favre's will-he/won't-he approach to retirement that began in the mid-2000s. Not only does GM Brian Gutekunst draft Rodgers' replacement before such a move was expected, but he also goes through a historic receiver draft without selecting one. Rodgers finishing his career elsewhere is now firmly in play, but even if he stays for multiple years, that is time the Packers cannot build around Love's rookie contract. A bizarre move for Division I-FBS' 2019 INT leader.
After making Bill O'Brien de facto GM nearly a year ago, the Texans made it official this year. They are now the equivalent of the fantasy team opposing owners target. O'Brien not only traded three-time All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, who is just 27, but he also took back David Johnson's albatross contract from the Cardinals and did not collect a first-round pick. O'Brien since gave Randall Cobb a three-year, $27M deal, overpaid Bradley Roby and traded a second-round pick for expensive concussion risk Brandin Cooks — he of a $16.2M-per-year contract. If nothing else, the NFL has become more interesting with O'Brien in a GM chair.
Linked to Jadeveon Clowney early in the process, the Colts still have nearly $25M in cap space and a hole at defensive end. Indianapolis did not draft an edge defender, has not re-signed Jabaal Sheard and has injury-prone Justin Houston as its only proven outside rusher. A 2018 second-round pick, Kemoko Turay has looked promising. But he played 81 defensive snaps last season and is coming off a broken ankle. Their impact trade for defensive tackle DeForest Buckner aside, the Colts could use another pass rusher.
The Jaguars are moving to a third Week 1 quarterback in three years and are in full rebuild. But the same executive who drafted Blake Bortles, extended him and oversaw six 10-plus-loss seasons in seven years remains GM. The Jags were a mess before Tom Coughlin's 2017 arrival, so owner Shad Khan firing the polarizing executive and keeping Caldwell was curious. The Jaguars are 36-76 under Caldwell, who was allowed to make crucial draft picks and start another rebuild despite accomplishing little during his tenure thus far.
Patrick Mahomes will one day sign an NFL-record contract; All-Pro Chris Jones may join Frank Clark as Chiefs $20M-per-year defensive linemen. The defending Super Bowl champions entered the draft with few needs, but they are light at cornerback. Although the Chiefs drafted corners in Rounds 4 and 7, going with Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Round 1 may be pushing it. The Chiefs will not be able to spend in free agency like they have during Mahomes' rookie deal and probably needed to use its first-rounder on its defense. That said, it will be fun to watch the tackle-shedding dynamo in Andy Reid's offense.
Like they did when they selected Clelin Ferrell well before most had the Clemson defensive end valued, the Raiders made a much bigger reach when they drafted Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette 19th overall last week. Arnette, who will be a 24-year-old rookie, is the only first-round cornerback since 1990 to combine a 40-yard dash north of 4.55 seconds with an arm-length measurement south of 31 inches. The Raiders have deployed a top-20 pass defense just once since 2011. Arnette will need to defy a legion of skeptics to help the team finally fill its cornerback need.
The Chargers did not overthink their first-round pick, drafting Justin Herbert as Philip Rivers' heir apparent. But they did so after signing three 30-something free agents: Chris Harris, Linval Joseph and Bryan Bulaga. Bolts coach Anthony Lynn has experience with Tyrod Taylor, but the veteran placeholder has proved to be a low-ceiling quarterback. Yet the Chargers landing 10th-, 11th- and 11th-year free agents to go with Herbert is an interesting strategy. If Herbert is not ready to go or experiences natural early struggles, the Bolts will have some disappointed win-now starters.
To see the Rams unload both Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks invites questions about GM Les Snead's blueprint. The Rams have not made a first-round pick since 2016 and will now be carrying more than $33M in dead money after jettisoning Gurley's and Cooks' deals — both agreed to less than two years ago. Gurley and Cooks had questions going forward, but it is still alarming to see a team eat this much dead money. Considering Jared Goff is signed to a $33M-per-year deal, the Rams will be battling uphill this year in attempting to compete with teams able to spend more on talent.
Ereck Flowers' transition to guard went fairly well in Washington, with the former tackle bust stabilizing his career at a convenient time. The Dolphins bought in, signing the 2015 top-10 pick to a three-year, $30 million deal. Flowers was one of the league's worst tackles but will receive a massive raise based on a small work sample at guard. Considering the Dolphins drafted a quarterback with significant injury concerns, they do not have one proven O-line starter on their roster. Tua Tagovailoa's blockers range from small-sample-size free agents, holdovers from a bad line and two rookies.
Amid a retooling offseason that included the trade of Stefon Diggs, releases of longtime starters Linval Joseph and Xavier Rhodes and multiple other free agency defections in the secondary, the Vikings will save some money. However, they made 15 draft picks and 11 of those came from Rounds 4-7. Minnesota acquired picks in the Diggs deal and a Friday swap with the Saints but may have been better served by packaging some of these selections to move up for talent during the draft. But competition for back-end roster spots and practice squad space will be intense this summer.
The Broncos once replaced Peyton Manning with seventh-rounder Trevor Siemian, but their roster was in better shape than the current Patriots'. Not only did the Pats not take a wide receiver in a loaded draft at the position, but they also passed on all QBs. Bill Belichick surely has a plan, but Jarrett Stidham threw four passes last season and never tossed more than 18 touchdown passes in a college season. With a questionable receiving corps and famed O-line coach Dante Scarnecchia gone, Stidham is not in a great position. The Pats are taking a while if they are not, in fact, planning a Stidham- Brian Hoyer QB battle.
The Saints have made a staggering commitment to not only shoring up their interior offensive line but also creating a surplus. They now have guard starters Andrus Peat and Larry Warford signed to $11.5M- and $8.5M-per-year deals, used a second-round 2019 pick on center starter Erik McCoy, signed backup Nick Easton to a $6M-AAV accord and used a 2020 first-rounder on center Cesar Ruiz. Pro Football Focus graded Peat as a bottom-tier guard the past two years, but he made the past two Pro Bowls. It does not seem like New Orleans' roster can house all of these players. For O-line buffs, this situation will be fun to follow.
The Giants used a $16.1M franchise tag on a player who is either one of the great almost-sackers of our time or someone who simply has not justified a top-10 draft slot. Leonard Williams ranks 87th in sacks (17.5) since 2015 but sits 12th in QB hits in that span. The ex-Jet recorded a half-sack in 15 games last season but wants to be tagged as a defensive end. Even on the D-tackle tag, Williams now has a higher negotiating floor than his play deserves. The Giants already employed a talented D-line, and with next to nothing at outside linebacker, this Williams decision was expensive and bizarre.
This will be a key year for the Jets quarterback. Darnold has shown the most chemistry with Robby Anderson during his career, but the Jets let him walk for a fairly modest price. The Panthers signed the deep threat, who said he wanted to stay in New York, to a two-year, $20M deal. The Jets added cheaper replacement Breshad Perriman; they now have Perriman, Jamison Crowder and second-round pick Denzel Mims, a wideout trying to buck a years-long trend of Baylor receivers busting. The Jets could have kept Anderson and drafted Mims but instead made Darnold's job more difficult.
The Eagles' Carson Wentz extension ties him to Philadelphia through at least 2023, and while he has experienced various health issues since his second season, using a second-round pick on a quarterback they do not plan to make a starter is strange. Something similar occurred with Pat White in 2009 (Dolphins) and Brian Brohm in '08 (Packers). The Oklahoma dual threat will need to be a rich man's Taysom Hill to justify this pick — one that could have been used to help Wentz or Philly's defense — or generate enough buzz for a future trade.
Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges defanged a long-lethal Steelers offense. The 2019 unit ranked last in DVOA. Although this was the QBs' first exposure to NFL game action, the Steelers have curiously not added a quarterback. They have Ben Roethlisberger entering his age-38 season and coming off a severe elbow injury he is still rehabbing. With Big Ben was not exactly a health marvel before that injury, it would seemingly behoove a Steelers team — one armed with a rebuilt defense — to add a quarterback capable of better play than Rudolph or Hodges showed last season.
Swapping DeForest Buckner for Javon Kinlaw and a fourth-round pick, the 49ers are betting not only on the South Carolina defensive tackle but also that Armstead's contract year was an indicator of future reliability. Buckner had become a top-five defensive tackle and was far more consistent than his former Oregon and 49ers teammate. Armstead's 49ers-best 10 sacks last season were more than his previous four NFL slates combined, and he's now signed to a $17M-per-year deal. Armstead's past health and production issues call it into question.
While the Seahawks did use a third-round pick on LSU guard Damien Lewis, their offensive line consists of a soon-to-be 35-year-old left tackle (Duane Brown) and a host of mid- and low-level starters. Seattle has not done well to protect Russell Wilson. Since 2015, PFF has ranked Seahawks O-lines 30th, 32nd, 27th, 18th and 27th. This year, they added ex-Steelers part-timer B.J. Finney, ex-first-round bust Cedric Ogbuehi and middling-at-best ex-Jet Brandon Shell and just cut center Justin Britt and guard D.J. Fluker. For years, the team has not expended enough resources to ensure that this unit is up to code.
It is hard to criticize the Bucs. They now employ Brady, Rob Gronkowski and first-round tackle Tristan Wirfs. They retained Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and new franchise single-season sack leader Shaq Barrett. But the Bucs will be on national TV frequently, so their pivot back to these uniforms — and a worse white-on-white road kit — is disappointing. Simply, Tampa Bay picked the wrong throwback. Imagine the image bump the Bucs' marvelous (but unsuccessful) 1976-96 uniforms would receive if Brady and Gronk revived the franchise? Instead, an uninspired change to unis the Bucs last wore only seven years ago occurred.
The Titans roster became more expensive this offseason. They extended Ryan Tannehill and franchise-tagged Derrick Henry. But in the process, Tennessee traded stalwart Jurrell Casey to Denver for a seventh-round pick. The five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman is too good to be a salary dump, and instead of working opposite 2019 first-round pick Jeffery Simmons on a defense that was a game away from the Super Bowl, Casey will finish out his prime elsewhere.
Dunbar went from negotiating a new contract with the previous Redskins regime to being shipped out for a fifth-round pick by the new one. Ron Rivera has a better track record than since-ousted team president Bruce Allen, but Dunbar emerged with a breakout season in 2019. PFF graded him as last season's second-best corner. Dunbar intercepted four passes and had become a full-time starter in his age-27 season. Dealing him for a fifth certainly marked an underwhelming development for a franchise attempting to rebound.
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